Pocatello soldier learning to walk with prosthetic legs
For decades, a lost limb meant a life confined to a wheelchair or crutches, but not anymore.
Prosthetic devices are changing the lives of the nearly 1.7 million Americans living with the loss of a limb.
From soldiers injured during active duty every day, to the 14 people who lost limbs in the Boston Marathon explosions, artificial limbs and mobility devices are giving patients a second chance; including a soldier from Pocatello recovering at a military hospital in Texas.
21-year-old Army Sergeant Matt Krumwiede says he always knew he would live a life in the military.
He joined the U.S. Army in 2010, but until last week, Matt hadn't been able to walk for nearly a year.
Last June, Matt was severely injured and lost both of his legs while he was on patrol in Afghanistan.
Now, thanks to prosthetic legs, he's able to walk again.
"Right now it's really hard because it's been 10 months since I've done something like that," said Krumwiede. "It's a really physical exercise."
Matt says there are good days and bad days, but learning to walk is one of the most difficult missions he's had.
"They start you off with really short ones called stubbies and you pretty much re-learn how to walk," said Krumwiede. "They gradually just get longer and longer."
"There is a period of adjustment in getting used to that, but most people really do pretty well and can be pretty functional with them," said Shane Mangrum, M.D. and director of physical medicine rehabilitation at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center.
According to the Army, nearly 170 soldiers who have had a major limb amputation have remained on duty since the start of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars... With some even returning to battle.
Matt hopes to join them.
"It's the only thing I've wanted to do since I was a little kid," said Krumwiede. "I don't know what else I'd want to do."
Krumwiede will eventually receive full-length prosthetic legs that have knee joints. For now, the shorter prosthetics allow him to practice strength and balance before moving on to something taller.
Krumwiede's mother says he can be released from the hospital this Thursday if all goes well, but it'll be about 6 months until he can return to Idaho.
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